Students will use simple addition facts to compute a value to their name.
- A Perfect Name, by Charlene Costanzo; ISBN 0-8037-2614-7
- A Porcupine Named Fluffy, by Helen Lester; ISBN 0-395-52018-5
- Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes; ISBN 0-688-09699-9
- From Anne to Zach, by Mary Jane Martin; ISBN 1563975734
- Heart of a Tiger, by Marsha Diane Arnold; ISBN 0-8037-1695-8
- Hope, by Janice Lee Porter; ISBN 1-57505-230-X
- I Named the Baby, by Linda Shute; ISBN 0-8075-3417-X
- Josephina Hates Her Name, by Diana Engel; ISBN 1-55861-218-1
- Matthew A.B.C., by Peter Catalanotto; ISBN 0-689-84582-0
- My Name is Yoon, by Helen Recorvits; ISBN 0-374-35114-7
- Rumpelstiltskin, by Paul Zelinsky; ISBN 0-14-055864-0
- The Day of Ahmed's Secret, by Florence Parry Heide and Judith
Heide Gilliland; ISBN 0-688-14023-8
- The First Thing My Mama Told Me, by Susan Marie Swanson;
- The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi; ISBN 0440-41799-6
Background for Teachers
Student names are powerful teaching resources. Names can be used
to demonstrate phonemic features and spelling patterns. They can also
provide opportunities to explore student differences and individual
heritage. In addition to language and content connections, there are
many opportunities to explore names in a mathematical sense. One of
the most effective behavior reinforcement techniques is to say a student’s
name and use it in a positive way.
During this activity, students use simple addition facts to compute a
value for their name. Next, they add larger numbers to compute the
combined value of all the names in their group. Finally, they use the
group totals to compute the combined value of all the names in the class.
It is not necessary for students to know how to add using the common
regrouping algorithm, nor is it necessary for them to know how to add
coins. The activity is designed to allow students to explore combining
strategies on their own and in small groups. Teachers may use this
activity as a diagnostic tool for future regrouping lessons.
Intended Learning Outcomes
5. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
Invitation to Learn
Read The Name Jar. Discuss some of the events that helped Unhei
learn to value her name. Define value. What would happen if names
had monetary value? How much money would each student’s name be
- Using your name as an
example, model how you would write it
out and find the value that goes with each letter. Ask students to
help you identify letter values from the Letter Values
Write a number sentence from that information. Ask for possible
suggestions as to how you might solve the problem (e.g., Use
counters, draw tens and ones, group numbers into doubles, find
tens, count on, use 100s board, use the number line, use tally
marks, draw it out, use coins). Get as many suggestions as time
- Ask students
to estimate how much their name would be worth
based on your example. Record the estimate.
- Explain the scoring rubric
and encourage students to use any math
tool they think might help them.
- Ask students to find out how much their
name is worth using one
of the strategies discussed, or one they develop on their own.
- Once students
have successfully found out how much their name
is worth, put them in small groups to determine the combined
value. Model a sample strategy using a small group. Can they
use the same strategy they used to find out the value of their
name? Do they need to alter their strategy?
- Combine groups once again until
you have three or four groups.
- As a class, use calculators to determine
the final total.
- Make a vowel consonant
graph. Write out your name on 1” graph
paper, one letter per square. Color the vowels red and the
consonants yellow. Cut out each square and mount on an
individual graph. Write three facts about your graph.
- How much are
your spelling words worth? Vowels are 10¢
letters, B-L are worth 1¢, and letters M-Z are worth 5¢. Using
money stamps, students stamp the coins next to their spelling
words, then add up the total value of each word.
- Make a class alphabet
book using the names of the students in
your class. Model it after the style of From Anne to
- Make a graph based on how many letters are in your name. After
counting the letters in your name, make a physical model to
represent name length. Compare it with other students in your
group. Compare it to a very long name, such as Rumpelstiltskin or Chrysanthemum.
- If students have a hard time organizing their work, provide
template for them to work from. If they are struggling with
drawing their representations, allow them to use sticker dots or
mini stamps to record their solutions. If students are not
understanding one-to-one correspondence, encourage them to
complete one letter at a time. Breaking the problem into smaller
units (scaffolding) can be effective for students who have
difficulty processing language.
- Because there are multiple answers and multiple solutions
involved, a scoring
rubric is helpful when assessing a
problem like this.
- This assessment may be repeated whenever the seating
altered or a new student is added to the class. Encourage students
to try a new strategy or attempt a different combining method.
Teachers should take note of students’ abilities to combine
numbers in tens, explain their answers, and organize information.
- A sample
worksheet could be provided with made-up names for
students to repeat the activity independently.
Snow, M.A. & Brinton, D.M. (1997). The Content Based Classroom. White
Longman/Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. pgs. 5-21.
This selection discusses
how content-based instruction, cooperative
learning groups, and scaffolding are effective techniques for teaching
English Language Learners as well as students with learning disabilities.
These methods are supported using research from Vygotsky, Slavin, and
Hornick, L.M. (2004). Multicultural Literature: What’s in a Name, Book
Links, pgs. 39-42.
Hornick provides a bibliography of grade specific books that teachers
can use when planning thematic name units. Student names often
provide excellent resources when teaching multicultural awareness. The
author also suggests several follow up activities that coincide with the
Huinker, D.A. (2002). Calculators as Learning Tools for Young Children’s
Number, Teaching Children Mathematics, pgs. 316-321.
This article explores ways students and teachers use calculators to
expand number sense and number relationships. “Using calculators as
learning tools can empower young children with the capacity to
investigate number ideas in ways that were previously inaccessible to